We have touched upon the subject of email lists before. Though I regret not maintaining it from early on, I do not do it really well for two reasons:
- I am lazy
- I do not think I have intelligent enough things to say that people want to read every week/fortnight/year
It is fair enough to say I miss out on this seemingly money making opportunity.
I do subscribe to a lot of email lists from respected, not-so-well-respected, downright-shady websites. I am happy to say I have enhanced my abilities to take BS doing that. I also have really good thoughts on why websites (especially internet marketing websites) talk about email lists way more than blogs and forums.
Maintaining email lists and pumping your subscribers information including product advice, affiliate links, and the likes are like people performing dark arts.
- Yes, that is an effective marketing tool that can be used for the good of humanity.
- Yes, there are people and websites that are head-over-heels about the conversation rates through emails.
- Yes, more than a few people fall to the advice to earn some money, and fame to the practitioners.
- No, there are not a lot of people practicing dark arts for the good of humanity.
Why websites maintain email lists, and why do I compare that to dark arts?
I will not harp on the goodness of email lists, that has been done before. What is equally interesting is how email lists avoid the publicizing of pitfalls and negatives of your messages, while you are demonstrating your expertise.
- Email lists are private. The reader either opens the email or no, clicks on the links or otherwise, and the reader may simply move the damn thing to spam. At the end of the day, this remains private. I am free to claim what I want to claim. I do not have to provide insights into how many returning readers actually come over to the website, what percentage of traffic is from email list subscribers, what percentage of readers are led by my other dark arts, and so on. This is crucial while I am trying to play the expert to lesser mortals
- Opinions are mostly kept private. Unless someone erupts in some forum or website, the email responses remain private, and kept that way. Strong opinions on emails from the website are neatly sidelined. There is no way to discuss what is there in the list and whether this helps or harms the user.
- Emails are a one way water hose for the most part. Though there are people who respond and use this efficiently to stay in touch and gather feedback, there are more of the negative stories than positive.
- All this negative information is not apparent when you are researching the efficacy of the site/product/service. Often (as in the case of internet marking software), BS is way way beyond what is reasonable. As a result you may not find any negative opinions for the first five pages of a search engine result. You have to really deep-dive in the topic, visit a lot of internet markets forums and find out by yourself
- You can share silly information and disguise it as a thorough professional quality work. People click on something that is “free for 10 days”, “free only for the loyal subscribers of the lists”, “free for idiots”, look at something that has been rehashed and resold from a totally unrelated story and get satisfied for the day.
This especially builds up the opinion in your favor, provided the subscribers do not know know feeds and getting all news that matter from online/offline newspapers, Facebook and the great knowledge repository called Twitter.